Philosophy, Rhetoric, and the End of Knowledge: A New Beginning for Science and Technology Studies

Philosophy, Rhetoric, and the End of Knowledge: A New Beginning for Science and Technology Studies

Philosophy, Rhetoric, and the End of Knowledge: A New Beginning for Science and Technology Studies

Philosophy, Rhetoric, and the End of Knowledge: A New Beginning for Science and Technology Studies

Synopsis

In this second edition of Steve Fuller's original work Philosophy, Rhetoric, and the End of Knowledge: The Coming of Science and Technology Studies, James Collier joins Fuller in developing an updated and accessible version of Fuller's classic volume. The new edition shifts focus slightly to balance the discussions of theory and practice, and the writing style is oriented to advanced students. It addresses the contemporary problems of knowledge to develop the basis for a more publicly accountable science. The resources of social epistemology are deployed to provide a positive agenda of research, teaching, and political action designed to bring out the best in both the ancient discipline of rhetoric and the emerging field of science and technology studies (STS). The authors reclaim and integrate STS and rhetoric to explore the problems of knowledge as a social process-problems of increasing public interest that extend beyond traditional disciplinary resources. In so doing, the differences among disciplines must be questioned (the exercise of STS) and the disciplinary boundaries must be renegotiated (the exercise of rhetoric). This book innovatively integrates a sophisticated theoretical approach to the social processes of creating knowledge with a developing pedagogical apparatus. The thought questions at the end of each chapter, the postscript, and the appendix allow the reader to actively engage the text in order to discuss and apply its theoretical insights. Creating new standards for interdisciplinary scholarship and communication, the authors bring numerous disciplines into conversation in formulating a new kind of rhetoric geared toward greater democratic participation in the knowledge-making process. This volume is intended for students and scholars in rhetoric of science, science studies, philosophy, and communication, and will be of interest in English, sociology, and knowledge management arenas as well.

Excerpt

For the past 15 years, social epistemology has been a project aimed at fostering closer cooperation between humanists and social scientists in the emerging interdisciplinary complex known as Science and Technology Studies (STS). sts has the potential of not only redrawing disciplinary boundaries within the academy, but ultimately, and more importantly, of making the academy more open to the rest of society. the trick is that sts practitioners employ methods that enable them to fathom both the “inner workings” and the “outer character” of science without having to be expert in the fields they study. the success of such a practice bodes well for extending science's sphere of accountability, presumably toward a greater democratization of the scientific decisionmaking process. These concerns are also shared by the assemblage of people who travel under the rubric of rhetoric of science and who teach oral and written skills in settings that range from general education to technical communication (Fuller 2001b). the success of Philosophy, Rhetoric, and the End of Knowledge (PREK), then, should be measured in terms of its ability to persuade philosophers, theoretical humanists and social scientists, sts practitioners, and rhetoricians of science to see each other as engaged in a common enterprise.

By that yardstick, the first edition of prek may be judged only a modest success, although it attracted considerable critical attention on publication in early 1993, including a symposium in the December 1995 issue of Philosophy of the Social Sciences and a major extended discussion in a volume devoted to interdisciplinarity published by the College Board, the firm that administers the entrance examinations most widely used in us universities (Newell 1998). Nevertheless, that much work remains to achieve the book's original promise is reflected in its new subtitle: A New Beginning for Science and Technology Studies.

Much has happened in the interim to shift the context of the book's argument. These issues are discussed before reviewing the book's contents. Despite the passage of time, the basic message remains the same: Theorizing is a politically significant practice. Recognized as political, one sees theorizing as having consequences beyond its intended audience. in this sense philosophy has, historically, transformed how nonphilosophers think and act in the world. Philosophers prefer not to acknowledge this aspect of their discipline . . .

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